Mankading: an unnecessary ethical dilemma

A game that breaks for lunch and tea, and returns to a gentlemanly time of measured applause, while paper napkins are carefully used to wipe up cucumber sandwich pieces, themselves being excessively Philosophy can and does lend itself to an allegedly higher moral plane. Cricket essentially became a prisoner of its old pastoral image, even though Test whites now hawk colored clothes in laundromats while the ODI and Twenty20 calendars attract crowds and fans to large stadiums.

The sport of shepherds bored with rough woods and balls of wool in the English countryside has now become a full-blown commercial endeavor, with equal amounts of athlete sweat and corporate dollars. But the link to an unlikely time, when Twitter was linked only to birds, triggers interpretations pointing to a perceived ‘inherent goodness’ within the willow game. And the phrase ‘this is not cricket’ is still in vogue to cover a dark incident caused by a moral quagmire.

No other sport has such a wide embrace of something that goes beyond a field and a notion that perhaps emerges at odd times and causes disparate views. The act of a non-striker getting out early when the bowler is in his delivery stride has happened before and will continue to happen. But the turning point came when the troubled bowlers’ club decided to clip the bails and appeal the run out, which is within the laws drawn up by the Marylebone Cricket Club.

The relevant portion begins as follows: “38.3.1 At any time from the time the ball comes into play until the time the bowler would normally be expected to release the ball, the non-striker is liable to be run out If he/she is out of ground. In these circumstances the non-striker will be run out if he/she is out of ground when his/her wicket is broken by the bowler hitting the stumps or by the hand of the bowler who caught the ball. is, whether or not the ball is subsequently delivered.

open and close?

So far so good and it seems like an open and shut case. But well, life is complicated and cricket only adds to it. Readers of a certain vintage may recall the 1987 World Cup, held in India and Pakistan. In a crucial game against Pakistan, West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh halted the pace of his delivery, his brows furrowed, his sweaty forehead streaked and he issued a warning to Salim Jaffer, who had made a non- The striker was highly supported from the crease.

Walsh refrained from bringing down the stumps and his goodness was celebrated as it was seen to be in sync with the supposed pristine purity of cricket. A method of dismissal, which went under the Mankad moniker in those days, was ignored and the reality was that Pakistan won that game, with West Indies eventually knocked out. If karma was to give both rewards and punishments on the basis of cause and effect, then Walsh and the West Indies were strangely carried away by a reverse-swing of destiny.

Going too far: Jos Buttler was run out at the non-striker's end by Sri Lanka's Sachitra Senanayake in an ODI in 2014, five years before he strayed again and in the IPL, R.K.  Short catch by Ashwin.

go too far: Jos Buttler was run out by Sri Lanka’s Sachitra Senanayake at the non-striker’s end in an ODI in 2014, five years before he went astray again and in the IPL, R.K. Caught out by Ashwin. , photo credit: AFP

Vinoo Mankad, who ran out Australia’s vagrant Bill Brown at non-striker in Sydney during India’s 1947–48 tour Down Under, became associated with this method of dismissal and Mankading became a part of cricket lexicon, although the term I had no words. official approval. “He did a mankad,” was uttered in the airwaves, words having as their basis a sense of disgust because, as previously mentioned, crickets soared high among fluffy clouds and angels smiling from heaven. was operated.

Sunil Gavaskar often reacted sharply, saying that it was disrespectful to Mankad. He saw it as an indirect attack on India, whereas this method of dismissal was within the ambit of the rules. One of Mankad’s sons objected to the experiment, while the greater Commonwealth laughed because hey, you can’t violate the ‘spirit of cricket’.

logic vs noise

The generalization of this dismissal, despite those classical classicists berating it, hinged on R Ashwin in the end. The off-spinner, aware of the cut and thrust and narrow-margins of modern cricket, was never averse to employing this method of dismissal and being an engineer, worked around this method of dispatching the restless batsman. Used sharp logic to clear the noise. ,

But when talk revolves around the ‘spirit of cricket’, the ghosts of this much-loved run-out version always find a second life! Recently, Rohit Sharma recalled Dasun Shanaka when Mohammed Shami ran out the batsman in the final over of a loss to Sri Lanka. Rohit said he would have preferred any other way to dismiss it, especially with Shanaka nearing the three-figure mark. As if on cue, Twitterati applauded ‘Rohit’s goodness’ and virtue-signalling resurfaced and the spirit of cricket whispered.

Ashwin later offered a reality check, saying Shanaka’s ‘run out’ was within the rules. But Mark Waugh made a tweet against this method of dismissal and Venkatesh Prasad opposed it, while Gillies at the non-striker’s end faced an existential anxiety from an unnecessary moral dilemma. Cricket has always oscillated between its rules and the way they are implemented.

Adam Gilchrist often walked off if he thought he had been dismissed, while fellow-Australian Ricky Ponting believed it was the umpire’s job to make the decision unless it was a case like being clean-bowled. There should be no outright dismissal. But Gilchrist also refused to walk on several occasions leaving the umpires confused. There was a former wicket-keeper in Indian domestic cricket who imitated the sound of the edge and then appealed, leaving the batsman perplexed and the umpire convinced.

Saliva-laden lozenges were previously used to change the position of the ball. Even if the pandemic puts an end to the use of saliva, the fact remains that cricketers will use all kinds of methods to gain an edge and extract profits, be it runs or wickets. Worse, the match has been thrown while shady brokers lurk across the ropes, but social media wriggling fingers pounce on a legitimate run-out.

So is Rohit right and Ashwin wrong? Life is never black and white and there are shades of gray and multiple interpretations. Rohit’s gesture was special while Ashwin’s execution of the rule is correct. There is no right or wrong here, but we just need to accept the context in which these decisions are taken. Cricket needs to move on, accept its diverse realities instead of trying to be too good to be true.

The South Indian way of eating masala dosa demands the use of hands, but in Mumbai, where the office-goer local is racing against the clock to catch a train, a fork and spoon work at Udupi joints. This saves time as there is no need to wash hands. Cricket and life offer many choices and influence the resulting decisions. Some bowlers will get run out against a stray non-striker, some bowlers may not. Captains may have their own parameters but all this adds to the charm of the game. Crickets should not always smell of talcum powder and should roam spotlessly white. Let it be.

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